Having your tuition, books, room and board paid for is an amazing privilege student-athletes enjoy, especially for student-athletes from low-income families who can barely afford to put food on the table.
With that being said, student-athletes still deserve more than a scholarship. They deserve to get their slice of pie from the multi-billion dollar business that is the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
Twenty or 30 years ago, it would be easy to say a scholarship is plenty for an athlete, but times have changed with the increased incorporation of television contracts, marketing, et cetera
According to ESPN.com, the NCAA and CBS/ Turner Sports agreed upon a television contract for the NCAA Tournament worth up to $10.8 billion, which is in effect from the year 2011 to 2024. On top of that, ESPN has a four-year deal worth $500 million to televise BCS bowl games.
The NCAA is profiting off of these student-athletes. The amount of time student-athletes spend attending team meetings, practicing and competing on the field or court should result in a paycheck.
College students work part time jobs in order to have spending money, as well as pay their tuition. Playing a sport needs to count as a job. The athletes have to go by a schedule, get orders from their boss (in this case the coach) and perform on the field or court.
Schools make a profit by selling team merchandise, tickets to sporting events and more.
The NCAA should come up with a method of compensation that allows student-athletes at major Division-I schools such as WSU, LSU, Alabama and USC to make some money from the hours of work they put in.
Conferences like the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten earn huge revenue through the television contracts and branding, according to Mark Dent from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The vigorous schedules student-athletes are forced maintain make it nearly impossible for them to work a regular day-to-day job bagging groceries or serving coffee at Starbucks.
According to ESPN journalist Michael Wilbon, the NCAA has helped low income student-athletes by providing money to cover clothing purchases, traveling and medical expenses. The NCAA also set up a special assistance fund and a student athlete opportunity fund. The NCAA should take a chunk out of the billions of dollars from their television contracts and add more to those assistance funds if they continue to refuse to pay these athletes.
Though football players and basketball players bring in the majority of the revenue for the NCAA according to ESPN.com, all college athletes, including track and field, volleyball and rowing athletes, deserve to be paid. Thanks to the Pac-12 Network and other conference television stations, every sport has the opportunity to be televised, which means more money for the conference and NCAA.
The NCAA took one right step in this direction by not renewing their contract with EA Sports. Until 2013, the NCAA profited off of players’ likenesses in football video games without compensation, and is now being sued by multiple players. For the next college football video game, the NCAA will not have their logo featured, according to ESPN.com. The NCAA also banned selling individual jerseys on their website, according to Brent Yarina from the Big Ten Network.
Small steps are being taken with this controversial issue. Hopefully the NCAA can step out of their shells and a make a big splash by paying these student-athletes.